Saturday, September 29, 2007

This is simply a spoof, but I swear that it reflects the lack of understanding about Nigeria (and other countries) in Western media.

In The Know: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex

Thanks Uju for the link!

This next clip is on Africa. How do you feel about this one?

In The Know: Is Our Wealth Hurting AfricaĆ¢��s Feelings?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The panel set up by the Nigerian House of Representatives to investigate the "Etteh scandal" has declared that "due process was not completely followed in awarding contracts".

The only issue remaining is whether Etteh will have to step down from her position and that decision will not be made until mid October because a two-week recess was recently announced. The recess is supposedly intended to give politicians time "to enable ... various [House] committees liaise with the respective ministries over the 2008 Budget".

According to ThisDay newspaper, 5 members of the 9-man investigating panel want Etteh indicted. The other 4 would rather have the management of the National Assembly indicted instead.

Apparently, Etteh is now wooing South Eastern state governors for their support in keeping her job. Nevertheless, this whole fiasco continues to unravel while Yardy visits the U.S. and is giving speeches where he calls himself a "Servant Leader". He should have gotten his house in order before going abroad to utter words like 'servant' and 'leader' if you ask me. How, do you ask? Tell Etteh to resign, regardless of whether or not the allegations are true because her presence in that position (Speaker of the House) discredits the position, the party, the country. He has not had a forceful enough public reaction to this incident and yet he hails himself as being anti-corruption!

Well, I rather read about Fortunatus Nwachukwu, the new Nigerian Head of Protocol at the Vatican. I am not Catholic, but as a Nigerian I am proud of my country man for achieving this position. Maybe he can get the Pope to pray very hard for my people. God knows we need serious Holy Ghost fayah and Holy Water because clearly we mere humans continue to suffer under the strain of doing the right thing at the right time in Nigeria.

PS - Wetin happen wey Igbo people dey give their children serious name like Fortunatus? I bet he got teased mercilessly all the time as a kid!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nigerian politics - the gift that keeps on giving!!!! Remember, my last post was titled, 'Political Soap Operas, Nigerian Style', and this current post continues with the theme of political entertainment in Nigeria!

By now, many of you know of the Mortal Combat session in Senate a few days ago. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh, appeared before a committee to answer questions about the N628 million contract scam. Nigerian democracy was in full form with supporters and non-supporters of the Speaker getting into a serious boxing match.



No wonder our politicians need a hardship allowance! If the execution of your duty required a coach, gym membership, workout equipment, and boxing gloves, you would want more of the peoples money too!

But, on a serious note, was the fight necessary? Whatever happened to dignity? Politicians used to be individuals that the populace could look up to, respect and admire. Those days were long gone over 20 years ago, one could argue. This fight is just another illustration of the breakdown of our society. People do not respect themselves and have no care for neither dignity nor shame.

If you have a problem with what you saw in the above clip, or anything else going on in Nigeria, then make sure you participate in the SPEAK UP NIGERIA Campaign, presented by Nigerian Lighthouse. The project is an opportunity to send a message, any message, to Nigeria. Your message can be long or short, funny or serious. It just has to be good in order to win an IPOD NANO. However, it is more important that you take the time to send the country a message in commemoration of Nigeria' 47th day of Independence. Visit Nigerian Lighthouse website for more information and/or stop by the Speak Up Nigeria Facebook page at

PS: I am writing an update to 'Who Will Develop Nigeria?' to respond to the comments received.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

As usual, there is never a dull moment in Nigeria. Nigerian politics, in particular, never fails to disappoint. A quick perusal of our national dailies will delight, displease and even dismay the faint at heart. There is always one scandal or the other. Currently, the hot button topic is the N628 million contract scandal involving Mrs. Etteh, the first female Speaker of Nigeria's House of Representatives.

Despite the various shenanigans, the ongoing squabble between a few public individuals makes the current political elite sound like a bunch of catty 10 year old girls. Their back-and-forth tiffs exhibit a level of immaturity and a lack of sophistication. Although these new officials gave many of us a very slight reason to hope that things might change, their public behavior should give all of us pause. Not sure what I am talking about? Pay attention...

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some 'area boys' in Ondo state recently kidnapped a few Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) officials. PDP won the state elections, held in April 2007, by a landslide and also won the Presidential election resulting in Yardy becoming President of the Republic. The elections, in Ondo State and across the country, were marred by serious allegations and evidence of poll tampering. The 'area boys', who claim to be members of MEND, allege that they helped PDP in rigging the April elections in Ondo State and are waiting to receive payment for their 'assistance'. The kidnappers took 11 governing officials hostage over the weekend and they demand that Dr Olusegun Agagu, the Ondo State governor, must pay a ransom of nearly $4 million.

The PDP has of course insisted that the allegations are false and stated that the kidnappers will receive absolutely nothing. On Tuesday, the kidnappers released two hostages and released another on Wednesday. We will all have to wait to see how this scenario ends.

Not good for PDP's image
But, here is the thing. This is not good news for PDP. Allegations of rigging are easy to believe based on the debacle that was local Ondo State elections earlier this year. Additionally, considering the reports released by Transition Monitoring Group, a Nigerian election watchdog organization and of course the recent EU criticism of the elections, these allegations continue to drag Yardy's party in the mud. This story simply reinforces what every ordinary Nigerian knows - politics is big business in Nigeria and in the words of the former PDP head and former Nigerian President, OBJ, elections are a "do or die" affair. Politics is unfortunately about money not the issues and the constituents. And, there is seemingly nothing anyone can do to change that equation.

Is MEND really involved or is this a set up?
Another thing I noticed was that these kidnapping 'area boys' have now associated themselves with MEND. In the past, I noted that we have allowed the militancy in the Delta to get out of control, resulting in armed gangs terrorizing Nigerians and foreigners alike. Here, a couple gangsters who claim to have rigged the election now are using MEND as cover. The fact that MEND has not distanced itself from these allegations is troubling but not shocking. In a country where allegiance shifts based on the number of zeros offered, it is not shocking that a MEND splinter group (or MEND itself), could work with PDP. It is sad to think that ideologies can be so quickly forgotten when money is involved. (Remember, the kidnappers are seeking $4 million - that is a lot of money).

Or, is this all a set up? I noted in another post that I love conspiracies, so let me share a potential one. Is this another attempt to weaken MEND and/or an attempt to weaken Goodluck? I previously discussed that there are possibly those with a keen interest in discrediting MEND. Assuming that my theory is correct, this kidnapping and ransom request would be a good means of achieving said goal. I can also imagine the talking heads discussing that Goodluck, as a Delta man, should be able to keep those militants in check. His inability to do so, thus, creates a situation where he is considered weak and could be attacked (not necessarily physically).

Well, let us all hope that this situation resolves itself peacefully. I cannot imagine what the families of the hostages are going through and hope that they are all released unharmed. Just another chapter in Nigerian politics.

PS: An 'area boy' is simply a term reserved for hoodlums or people who look and act like them.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

If you have ever taken a trip to Nigeria, then you know that Nigerian roads are dangerous and need an extreme makeover. If you have had the opportunity to discover, then you also know that the railroads are underdeveloped and are desperately seeking an upgrade.

So, it was with great interest that I began to pay close attention to various news reports in the Nigerian media that focused on future, unspecified infrastructural improvements. A recent report from the World Bank advised that the Nigerian government should develop its rail system connecting Lagos to Kano and Port Harcourt to Kano. It also suggested that other rail connections be completed in a secondary phase so as to improve Nigeria's rail infrastructure and provide necessary benefits to the country's domestic market and export economy. These improvements would also facilitate the following planned projects - the US$8-bn Trans-Saharan gas pipeline linking Nigeria and Algeria; the US$6-bn Olokola liquid natural gas (OKLNG) project, and the US$3.5-bn Brass River liquid natural gas (LNG) plant.

A few days after the World Bank report came out, I read that Yardy was in talks with a representative from General Electric. On Monday, September 3rd, Yardy met with Nabil Habayeb, the President and CEO of GE's Middle East and Africa Division. They talked about improving Nigeria's power/energy output and revitalizing the nation's transportation infrastructure. Yardy stated that his administration was "very serious about forging ahead..." with infrastructural improvements and would continue talks with GE.

It is exciting to witness all this 'chatter' about possible development, although, I wait with bated breath for the work to actually begin and be completed. You can't blame me. As a Nigerian, I am used to lots of promises with no results. Nevertheless, here is what bothers me, I find it difficult to believe that there are no Nigerians, inside or outside the country, that have the experience, skill and drive to develop a workable, strategic plan to improve and develop Nigeria's transport scene. Therefore, why is Nigeria considering paying an American firm to help us figure out how to solve the problem? Yardy might be a former school teacher, but his bank account tells me he is 'smart' at making money. So, he must not forget that development is a multimillion dollar business, and unless we become strategic and place the interest of Nigerians first, we will continue to not gain any advantage from the 'development hustle'. Everyone else will make money off our backs and our people will continue to live in poverty in an underdeveloped country with unfulfilled dreams.

It is my opinion that Yardy should have demanded that any company we work with be run by a Nigerian or African, at least. The amount of money to be made in Nigeria would force any company to acquiesce to such a demand and thus give Nigerians an opportunity to improve their position and finally allow the country to gain a real benefit. Such a move would also send a signal to the entire world and stand as a lesson to anyone willing to see that Nigerians look out for their fellow countrymen/women and will work together to improve our lot. I cannot express how disappointed I am in what may happen in the near future. This just seems like another example of the 'White Man's Magic' complex or the fact that our leaders do not care about Nigeria and lack a vision of what the horizon needs to be from a psychological, economic, social and strategic perspective.

I continue to ask, "Who will fight for Nigeria?" I am yet to find an answer.

Read up on Yardy's first 100 days in ofice at The Afro Beat.

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